Texas state officials are fighting hard for the capital city of Austin.
State Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an ultimatum to city Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County judge Andy Brown on Wednesday — warning in a tweet that the two had “until 6:00pm today to rescind any mask mandates or business-operating restrictions,” in order to come into “full compliance with GA-34.”
.@MayorAdler & @AndyBrownATX, you and local health authorities have until 6:00pm today to rescind any mask mandates or business-operating restrictions and come into full compliance with GA-34 ➡️ https://t.co/Bz5DQsw8IV
Otherwise, on behalf of the State of Texas, I will sue you. pic.twitter.com/IP9UpZPplh
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) March 10, 2021
GA-34 refers to Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 2 executive order lifting the state-wide mask mandate, and further requiring that “no person may be required by any jurisdiction to wear or to mandate the wearing of a face covering.”
Abbott announced the repeal of the mandate in person during a trip to Lubbock, Texas, and then again on Twitter the same day, writing, “I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%.”
I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%.
I also ended the statewide mask mandate.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 2, 2021
This order came in direct conflict with Adler’s follow-up Sunday statement, which said the city of Austin — as well as Travis County — would “continue to enforce masking and all other public health mandates.”
— Mayor Adler | ?wear a mask. (@MayorAdler) March 9, 2021
The mayor then mocked Abbott’s order in a Wednesday tweet, joking, “From the people who brought you no water and no electricity: no masks.”
From the people who brought you no water and no electricity: no masks.
— Mayor Adler | ?wear a mask. (@MayorAdler) March 10, 2021
Texas is just one of multiple states that have recently rescinded similar mandates. According to NBC News, the states of Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Arizona and Connecticut have also made announcements to soon lift various coronavirus pandemic restrictions, resulting in pushback both locally and nationally.
President Joe Biden was among the detractors, stating in a March 3 news conference that “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana perfectly communicated the characteristic response the following day that if “loving freedom … is what a Neanderthal would do, then well, I guess you can count me as one.”
If making data-driven decisions to reopen, loving freedom, and trying to get back to normal is what a Neanderthal would do, then well, I guess you can count me as one. https://t.co/TYmjMuoR8Y
— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) March 4, 2021
The results of Paxton’s ultimatum came in a Thursday development — neither Adler nor Brown opted to comply with Paxton’s order. Therefore, the attorney general promptly held up his end of the bargain to take the two parties to court.
I told Travis County & The City of Austin to comply with state mask law. They blew me off. So, once again, I’m dragging them to court.
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) March 11, 2021
Without any precedent in recent memory, this legal clash is sure to set an example for following conflicts between state and local officials in the near future.
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